How to Use a Linux PC to Send and Receive SMS Messages (Non-Developer's Perspective)

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Sending SMS messages with a mobile phone has a major problem -- it is very time consuming to write a text message using the small keypad of a mobile phone. Luckily, it is possible to use a PC (desktop or notebook computer) to send and receive SMS messages. This way you can use a full-sized QWERTY keyboard to write text messages.

In this article, we will demonstrate how to send and receive SMS messages on a PC that runs Linux. This article was written for non-developers. But SMS application developers who plan to use Gnokii to handle low-level details of SMS messaging in their Linux application should also benefit from this article, especially from the sections that detail how to install and configure Gnokii on Linux. More information about SMS application development is available in our SMS tutorial.


Requirements for Sending and Receiving SMS Messages from a Linux PC via a Mobile Phone

Here are the requirements for sending and receiving SMS messages through a mobile phone using a Linux PC:

  • A mobile phone that can be connected to your PC (some mobile phones do not have an interface for connecting to a PC). Today, most mobile phones support at least one of the following options to connect to a PC:

    • Via infrared (IrDA)

    • Via Bluetooth

    • Via a USB cable

    • Via a serial cable (RS-232 cable)

    The infrared and Bluetooth option should be very useful to many notebook computer users since nowadays many notebook computers have built-in infrared or Bluetooth support.

  • A Linux program that can control the mobile phone to send and receive SMS messages

Usually the program for sending and receiving SMS messages can be downloaded free of charge from the web sites of mobile phone manufacturers. For example, Nokia offers a software package called Nokia PC Suite that can be used to send/receive SMS messages, read/write phone book entries, and manage images, music and other files, among other features. Unfortunately, most mobile phone manufacturers only provide such programs for the Microsoft Windows platform.

To solve this problem, some programmers came together to develop open source replacements of such mobile phone software. One of the more mature ones is Gnokii, which is already included in some Linux distributions such as Debian, Mandriva Linux (old name: Mandrake Linux) and SUSE Linux. In the following sections, we will provide further details about Gnokii and demonstrate how to use Gnokii to send and receive SMS messages on your Linux PC.

(Two alternatives to Gnokii for sending and receiving SMS messages are Gammu and gsmlib. More information about them can be found in our article "Free Software/Tools and Libraries for Sending and Receiving SMS Messages with a Computer / PC".)

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